Sunday, January 18, 2015

Take the Plunge

The last couple of weeks have been stressful at work, my heart wanting to be home, my head not in the job. I've struggled with keeping the balance and feeling like I'm being the best in both places. It was a hard way to end the year: questioning where I am professionally, feeling completely lost and unfulfilled.

But this is my year of living fearless.

Late one night in October, I took the plunge and submitted my application to grad school. I didn't think about it too much, I just stayed up until 4 in the morning one night filling out applications and intentions and financial aide forms and hit submit. I took my GRE a week later, no studying or preparation involved. I just drove to the test center after work and took the damn test. I emerged 4 hours later feeling like I had just sucked out the contents of my brain with a vacuum. Shawn was completely on board. He's been telling me to apply for years now. I didn't really think that it would happen until I got an email in December saying "Hey. You. Dumbass who has no clue what you're doing. Go register for your classes. You're in". Or something like that.

Everything moved really quickly from that point. Before I even had time to really second guess myself and have my usual neurotic over thinking breakdown, I was a registered graduate student on my way to earning a Master's in Nursing with a concentration in Family Nurse Practitioner. Huh? Books arrived in the mail, assignments were posted, and I spent a ridiculous amount of money at Target on pretty binders and pens and sticky tabs. Because those items are very necessary to higher learning.

I capped off my first week of school with an all day orientation/faculty meet and greet. It was a bit overwhelming and I felt a little out of my league a couple of times throughout the day, sitting in a classroom with incredibly bright, articulate, impressively experienced nurses. But I felt super empowered, too. Energized, motivated, determined. One of the professors commended us for taking this next step. For wanting to be more. For stepping out of our respective comfort zones and willingly going back to being the little fishies in the big grad school pond.

As I drove away that afternoon, mentally exhausted and armed with a massive list of things to do, I felt euphoric, revived, the dark and dreary cloud that had been hanging over me for the last couple of weeks dissipated. This is it, Liv. You're going to the next level. I felt the shift, the switch turned: Beast mode. ON. I don't know how I'm going to make it all work, I'm just going to do it. It's going to take a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and resilience, but I'm going for it. I want more for myself and for my family. I want to do big things, to help people, to have more decision making capabilities, to find things I don't like and make them better. This is me making good on my promise to myself to live a fearless, faithful life. This is me living my dream.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fearless and Busy and Everything In Between

I feel like there's a moment, a season, every couple of months or so where I want to be in exactly the place where I can't be. I yearn to trade in my working mom role, the career that I love, and become a stay at home mom. I obsess over it actually. This season typically coincides with the holidays, summer vacation, the obvious occasions when one might long to have more family time, more spontaneity, less work. 

It's happening now, of course, as we wind down from the amazing whirlwind that is Christmas. The slew of New Year's resolution posts on blogs, Facebook, and Instagram don't help, either. The theme of "let's be less busy" seems to have taken over the internet these days as one post after another fills up my various feeds, encouraging me to "stop being so busy". I read a blog written by a stay at home mom yesterday encouraging us all to "stop glorifying the busy", another woman wrote about how so many of us are guilty of humble bragging in disguise, the word "busy" used as a merit badge to show how productive and superhuman awesome we are.

I see their points, I even nod my head in agreement at certain times. But I'm also left feeling extremely frustrated and confused. Not with them but with myself. I feel frustrated that I get so caught up in  my own head every couple of months, losing focus on how blessed I am and wanting a little bit of that grass that appears to be so much greener. I doubt myself and start questioning my path, wondering if I'm one of those people. The kind that glorifies it, humble brags it, wears my busyness as a merit badge. I sat on that one for a little while and really thought about it, called myself to the carpet. What is it that I'm missing that makes me feel so lost every couple of months? Am I trying to obtain something that will never be within my reach? Am I really all that busy, so much so that it calls me to question my journey? And is being busy even a bad thing?

I am a working mom with three little kids and a husband whom I love very much. I am busy, there's no two ways around it. And I don't think that being busy is a bad thing. I think that my perspective on the whole thing is what needs fixing. During this season that I charge through every couple of months, these emotionally challenging times when I find myself wanting to fill a role that I simply can not fill, I have to shift my focus and change my perspective. Being busy is not the problem, it's the reality. Cutting out distractions, however: well, that's a whole other story. Comparing myself to other mothers who live completely different lives, filling my days with activities that don't amount to anything but then wondering why I don't have time for the stuff that matters: those are problems. I need to fix that thinking, I need to stop wasting time longing for a reality that isn't going to happen at this time in my life.

But I also need to reevaluate the time that I DO have and make sure that I'm using it to the fullest. I'm busy, sure, but that doesn't mean that I can't slow down, settle in, and make the moments when I am present count. That's the perspective shift I was talking about, the swift kick in the ass I need every couple of months. I work hard and I am proud of that. There's something really satisfying to me about a long, hard day at work, a busy day. A day that involves me helping people, doing something that is bigger than me, and then coming home and still giving my all to my family. But I don't want to be so busy that I don't have enough room left in my heart for the simple moments of joy that surround me. River waiting for me at the door when I drive up from work, Brees leaving me a hand painted card to thank me for making her favorite breakfast, my heart to heart talks with Isabelle as I rush her from one practice to another. These are my moments, my working mom moments, they are my reality. 

I'm tired of the wanting, the wishing, the guilt and resentment. I'm tired of hating myself for loving to work. My New Year's resolution has nothing to do with being less busy: no resolution is going to change this season that we're in. My New Year's resolution, my word for 2015, is fearless. I'm going to live a fearless life, having a fearless amount of faith, loving fearlessly, taking chances and trying new things in a fearless way. I'm going to be busy as hell but I'm going to take the time to enjoy each and every moment. I'm not going to make excuses and I'm not going to wish for things that I don't have. I'm going to be fearlessly present, opening my heart to others in a fearless way, loving myself and where God has placed me, right here in this moment, with a fearless heart. Because that's where I am, that's who I'm designed to be. And I'm ready to own that, head held high, fist in the air, smile stretched wide, fearless spirit.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Run Liv Run: Make a Plan and Keep It Up

Shawn and I developed a habit in 2014: when we found ourselves coming up with a hundred different reasons as to why we COULDN'T do something, we challenged each other to think of at least one reason why we COULD.  Start at that place, that one reason, and take your first step. It's all downhill from there.

This week, I can think of a hundred different reasons to NOT exercise: it's really cold, I'm on call, the kids are headed back to school and dance and all of the scheduling craziness, I'm tired from the holidays, the list goes on and on.  But, I do have one amazing reason why I SHOULD exercise this week:

For the first time in many, many years, I am NOT starting over at the start of the new year.  I'm not jumping on a diet, I'm not starting a whole new exercise plan, I'm not climbing my way back up to the top and getting myself back into gear.  I'm simply continuing what I started at the beginning of last year.  I'm going to continue eating clean, balanced meals and even try a whole list of new recipes. I'm going to continue running, doing yoga, and lifting weights.  I'm going to sign up for a bunch of races this spring to continue the fun we had in the fall. I'm going to continue striving for balance in my mental, physical, and spiritual well being, taking care of myself and my family by putting in consistent effort to live a healthy and active lifestyle. I'm going to get adequate rest, take time to recover, hydrate, and eat as many fruits and veggies and whole foods as possible.  The cold weather, my busy work schedule, homework and carpool will not keep me from continuing what I've worked so hard to build.  Because I CAN do it.  One step at a time.

For me, as a busy full time working mom and now graduate student (WOOHOO!), the best way to get it done is to have a plan.  One Sunday night, I do a quick inventory of our fridge and pantry and make out my weekly meal plan and grocery list. I try to use what we have first and then work my way out from there. I try to use leftovers to create new meals. I try to keep it simple but delicious enough that I keep my family's taste buds happy and ready for more. My weekly meal plans and exercise routines are very flexible: this list is not set in stone. This is simply a guide to keep us on track and make weeknights less stressful. Because we've been doing this for almost a year now, meal planning moves pretty quickly.  I have lots of go-to recipes that I know will be a hit with everyone and I also make lots of freezer meals to save time when we are busy with the kids. It takes practice but the reward is priceless.

Weekly meal plan:

Overnight oats (my fav breakfast because there are SO MANY ways to make them, they never get boring!
Veggie filled scrambled eggs


Monday: Black bean quinoa enchilada casserole (this is the basic recipe. I make my own enchilada sauce using this recipe and I add chicken and go really light on the cheese)

Tuesday: Ground turkey meat tacos served in butter lettuce cups

Wednesday: Taco salads using leftover taco meat, loaded down with tomatoes, avocados, roasted corn, topped with Tessamae's Southwest Ranch dressing

Thursday: Spicy black bean veggie burgers on mushroom "buns" topped with tons of veggies, served with steamed asparagus

Friday: Grilled salmon, roasted red pepper quinoa, broccoli

Saturday: Clean crockpot taco chili

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner, usually gluten free waffles or pancakes topped with fruit

Weekly Workout Plan:

Monday: 3.5 mile easy run, 30 minute inversions practice

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: 30 minute Tabata/HIIT workout, 30 minutes of stretching

Thursday: 3 mile speed run

Friday: Yoga

Saturday: 4 mile tempo run

Sunday: Rest, recover, meditate, family hike or bike ride

What's your plan this week?  Do you have any recipes to share?